Weslye Saunders' road to the NFL has encountered yet another speed bump with the NFL Network reporting the former South Carolina tight end will undergo surgery to have a pin inserted into his fractured foot Friday.
This type of surgery typically takes six to eight weeks to recover from. Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones turned in a blistering performance at the scouting combine in February despite having a fractured foot, then underwent surgery and is expected to get his walking boot off next week. Saunders went through South Carolina's pro day on Wednesday with the injury.
Saunders was suspended for the entire 2010 season after lying to the NCAA twice regarding details of trips he took to Atlanta and Washington D.C. last summer with friend Marvin Austin, the former North Carolina Tar Heel who was the focal point of an investigation into alleged improper benefits received from agents. Saunders was eventually kicked out of the program by coach Steve Spurrier.
Saunders said he paid his own way, but lied to protect friends, fearing he'd get them in trouble - although he claimed not to know what for.
"I panicked," Saunders said at the combine. "There's no excuse for lying. I wasn't truthful and forthcoming. I did hold back on information in the first two interviews. The third time I laid everything out on the table.
"It felt like they were investigating a murder. It was in the middle of summer, they put me in a hot room in the Carolina Inn and stuck two tape recorders in front of me for four hours."
Saunders said he hopes he can regain his reputation. As for his draft stock, he's unlikely to get back his preseason status -- he was NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked tight end in August.
"At the end of the day, I think everyone realizes I made a mistake, I suffered greatly for that mistake," he said. "I never was arrested. I never failed a drug test. I never was on academic probation. I think we'll get a chance to prove ourselves."
--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor